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Nova Scotia announced new restrictions, closures and fines for the Halifax area on Tuesday as the province identified one of its highest numbers of new cases during the entire pandemic.
The province announced 37 new cases on Tuesday — the fifth highest number of daily new cases reported and the highest since April 18.
Of the new cases, identified on Monday and reported on Tuesday, 35 were in the central zone, one was in the northern zone and related to Halifax and one was in the western zone at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, which will now be closed for the rest of the week. There are now 87 known active cases in the province.
“If you haven’t woken up to the second wave, this is your wake-up call,” Premier Stephen McNeil said during Tuesday’s briefing.
“There is no doubt that COVID is in our communities and it is trying to take a grip on the greater Halifax area.”
As of Thursday at 12:01am, for two weeks, the province is implementing the following restrictions in the Halifax and Hants county area:
- All attendees of illegal gatherings will be fined $1,000 — not just the host
- Restaurants and bars are closed to in-person dining
- Retail stores must limit shoppers and staff to 25% of total capacity
- Wineries, distilleries and breweries are closed to tastings and dining, and must follow retail rules
- Sports, recreation, athletic, arts and cultural and faith-based activities are cancelled
- Fitness centres, libraries, museums and casinos are closed
The social gathering limit of five remains in place for that area, with households allowed to have five guests.
There are also new restrictions across the province, also effective Thursday: people are asked to avoid non-essential travel, especially to or from HRM or outside of the province; visitors will be barred from long-term care facilities; and sports teams will not be permitted to travel between regions.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said he wanted to institute these “tough measures” earlier in the second wave, unlike other provinces.
Strang said he knows it will be difficult for Nova Scotians to follow these rules during the holidays, but the first priority needs to be keeping each other safe.
“This year, the way we care for each other, the way we show that we love each other, is by keeping each other COVID safe,” Strang said.
“Everything else — gifts, faith celebrations, they are secondary to what we’re doing primarily which is about showing that we care for each other.”
Strang suggested that rather than rushing out to Black Friday, Nova Scotians should support local businesses online or donate to local charities.
Strang said if the province can be vigilant for two weeks, or potentially longer, and then slowly ease up, Nova Scotia can overcome the virus. He said these decisions weigh on him heavily.
“We’re back to where we were in March or April. It’s hard for everybody and we’re feeling that. But just because it’s hard doesn’t make it impossible,” Strang said.
“We are where we are. How we get out of this is what I’ve just talked about. This is our moment. As we did in Wave 1, it’s our moment to come together and deal with Wave 2. By acting quickly and aggressively, it’s the best way to keep all of us safe and it puts us on the fastest road to economic recovery. It is now in all of our hands.”
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